Sunday, September 8, 2013

Returning to the Lord: Yom Kippur

We are in the days between Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; these days are known as the Days of Awe. During this time the Lord is calling all of His children to Teshuva, which in Hebrew, literally means, "return". In the times of Moses, the Day of Atonement was serious business - very specific details and observances, with an offering made by fire, no servile work, and afflicting oneself [Leviticus 23:27].

In the generation we live in today, the most important focus on Yom Kippur should be Teshuva, our returning to the Lord - something that is easily overlooked, taken for granted, and misunderstood in the times we live in. As believers in Messiah Yeshua [Jesus Christ], the atonement that is sought after on Yom Kippur is something we already have free access to; through His blood and our faith in Him, our sins are atoned for once and for all. When we sin, turn away from the Lord, and do our own agenda instead of His, we can turn back to the Lord and ask for forgiveness; most of us feel that pull in our Spirit calling us to Tehsuva, and some of us ignore it until our circumstances get so bad we pull a "911 God" and begin bargaining with the Lord for some sort of relief. 

The days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement for a faith-filled believer in Yeshua is a beautiful time to ask the Lord to reveal the things in our inner man that are displeasing to Him - this is an opportunity we should take all year long, on an as needed basis; however, these days right now approaching Yom Kippur are especially powerful because of the ordinances the Lord set with the Israelites. This is the time He ordained for us to reflect, repent, and be sealed in Eternity with our names written in the Book of Life. 

In observing Yom Kippur, we don't have to "hope" that the Lord forgives us, or anticipate that He might be angry with us and not write our names down in the Book of Life - because that Book of Life is the Lamb's Book of Life, and the blood of our Savior and Redeemer has written our names in it in accordance with our faith in Him. "Therefore, since we have been made righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua Messiah also through Whom we have had access by faith into this grace in which we stand and we boast in hope of the Glory of God." [Romans 5:1,2].

During these Days of Awe, as the Lord calls each of us to Teshuva, and return to Him, it is also important to remember that we have been given a seal by the Lord, to know that we are His, and can rest assured that our names are in the Lamb's Book of Life in accordance with this seal. This seal is something more tangible and evident than anyone ever had in the Day of Moses - during the days of animal sacrifice and the Ancient observances of Yom Kippur, one was left with only a waning hope that they have been forgiven and their names were recorded for another year in the Book of Life. Today, we have been given something so definite,  so solid, and so unique, we should never again question the greatness of our Lord. 

This seal is called Ruach HaKodesh, or the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 1:13, 14 we read, "In Whom also yourselves, because you heard the message of Truth, the gospel of your Salvation, in which you also believed, you were sealed by the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a down payment of our inheritance, salvation, for a redemption of the purchased possession, in praise of His glory." This gift of the Holy Spirit is direct evidence of the Lord's possession over us - as we freely offer ourselves to Him, as we return to Him, as we obey Him. 

As we approach Yom Kippur, let us observe this Day of Atonement with a fast in gratitude and repentance; being grateful that we have atonement through the blood of Yeshua our Messiah, and repenting from anything the Holy Spirit may show us about ourselves that is displeasing to the Lord. These Days of Awe are meant to be spent solely concentrated on your relationship with the Lord - and as Yom Kippur comes upon us the nightfall of Friday, September 13, 2013, we can and should continually pray for forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of the Jewish People. [BNF 09.08.13]

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